Sunday, January 3, 2016

TMC cassette memories - post 1

January. The first month of a new year. Time for New Year's Resolutions - that last about an hour. Time to perhaps revisit things of importance. But why go outside if it's cold, rainy, dreary, etc.? Instead, I recently buried myself in a spare-room closet going through my collection of cassettes.

One of my life's regrets is that I tossed my 8-track collection back in 1996. I should have kept them - or at least just one of them. Perhaps KISS Alive 2 ... or AC/DC For Those About To Rock ... or Rush Permanent Waves. Instead, I chunked them all.

Despite their being obsolete as well, however, I have not tossed any of my cassette tapes. The better releases were replaced with CDs or downloads. Others that earned an ehhh rating at the time have been left behind. And still others had all but been forgotten until I went back through my cases.

I'll share a few in the weeks to come with what memories I can recall about them.

Velvet Elvis - Self-Titled: A band with the band name Velvet Elvis just had to snag a few impulse buyers. Right? Well, they snagged at least one. Before the wholesale changeover to CDs, Turtle Records on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee stocked a buttload of cassettes. Many a Saturday afternoon was spent just flipping through the "Various" of each letter of the alphabet. I later did the same with new CDs at Turtles and Tower Records and with used music at Nashville's Great Escape and Grimey's.

I recall laughing a bit when I spotted Velvet Elvis - though there was something captivating about the cover art. My "well hell, why not?" decision to purchase was rewarded. I'd compare the band's music in that era to something like Mitch Easter's Let's Active. I liked the release enough that I upgraded it later with a CD.

Hunters & Collectors - Living Daylight: I don't recall how I learned about Australia's H&C. The first CD I bought of theirs was the IRS Records release, Fate. After digging it, I sought out their previous album, Human Frailty. Living Daylight was an EP released between the two, and I could only find it on cassette.

Van Halen - 5150 and OU812: These are two cassettes I regret buying. They were the last two albums I bought of a band that rocked so hard when it first hit the scene in 1978. I should have known better after the mixed bag that was 1984 - yet I bought these two anyway. They were parked soon after I got them, and I haven't missed whatever was on either of them.

Marques Bovre and the Evil Twins - Medicine: I have zero recall of this band though I would have thought it many have been an impulse purchase at a merch table after seeing them in Chattanooga. But after a quick Google search, I learned Bovre was from Madison, Wisconsin. I worked in Madison in the early 90s, but I still have zero recall of how this one hit my radar.

Radio Berlin - It Takes A Pretty Smile To Sell A Song: I don't remember much about the band except they toured regularly through Chattanooga in the late 1980s-early 1990s. After seeing them two or three times, I bought their tape. I don't recall Turtle's stocking music of local or unsigned bands. But I'm also struggling to recall other record stores we had at the time - Cat's perhaps?

Hank Williams Jr. - hodge podge: My new college friends and I had quite the rowdy time my freshman and sophomore years in the dorm. When I hit campus at age 18, I knew of Hank Jr. but wasn't familiar with specific songs. By October 1 of my freshman year, however, I had the majority of his post-Ajax Mountain-fall songs memorized. While we also mixed in plenty of Haggard, Waylon, David Allan Coe, Cash and even Merle Kilgore, our go-to music when classes ended Friday was Bocephus.

To be continued...


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